Willow Fire Still Burning On Rim


With calmer winds, crews hope to get a handle on a forest fire burning near Bear Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim.

The Willow Fire, not to be confused with the Wallow Fire, sits at 305 acres with 10 percent containment as of Tuesday morning.

The Willow Fire started Sunday afternoon near Willow Creek, adjacent to the Bear Canyon Lake, and has spread northwest through a forest of mixed conifer, said Eric Neitzel with the U.S. Forest Service.

The human-caused blaze is still under investigation, but has so far not damaged any structures.

Fire crews are working to keep the blaze from spreading to nearby power lines that feed the Valley.

“We really don’t want to de-energize those lines,” he said.

Workers at the Smokey lookout tower first reported the fire at 1:20 p.m. Sunday.

The fire is located about one mile north of Bear Canyon Lake, which is 44 miles northeast of Payson by road or 25 miles as the crow flies.

With high winds Sunday, the fire spread quickly, but by nightfall, winds had died down and the fire slowed.

“We had some pretty ferocious winds,” Neitzel said.

Luckily, wind is minimal on Monday and Neitzel is hopeful crews will get a handle on the fire in the next few days, although “we are not letting our guard down at all.”

Resources on scene include 278 workers, four dozers and six aircraft. A Type II incident management team took over suppression efforts at 6 p.m. Monday.

Fire restrictions remain in place and Bear Canyon Lake and area trails are closed.

Visit www.fs.usda.gov/asnf for updates on the fire.


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